BusinessWeek Online reporter Marc Hogan takes a hard look at ShareSleuth.com, the new investigative business journalism web site being started by former St. Louis Post-Dispatch business reporter Christopher Carey and being funded by billionaire Mark Cuban.
The ethics of the web site, which is not yet up and running but has generated interest this week after it was disclosed, are being questioned after Cuban said he would invest in some of the companies mentioned on the site.
Hogan quoted a journalism school dean: “At first blush, it just sounds so weird it’s kind of hard to get my mind around,” says Dean Mills, dean of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia. “Whether online or in print or in any other form, the main mission of journalism is to give the best, most accurate, most objective news it can to its readers. You just have to think that this kind of personal individual investment motive would contaminate the journalism.”
Hogan later wrote: “The stories will take an ‘anti-fraud, pro-investor’ point of view and will likely steer away from the ‘he-said, she said’ approach of much contemporary journalism.
“Nor is Cuban’s plan necessary illegal. Under the law, Cuban must disclose his interest in the securities Carey covers, and Carey’s stories must be true, according to Mike Missal, a partner at Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham specializing in securities regulatory matters.”
Missal prosecuted former Wall Street Journal reporter Foster Winans in the 1980s for sharing information in his stories with investors before they were published.
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